I think that Linkin Park got the short end of the stick on this one, since it seems like most people were pretty done with this style of barely Alt-Metal with some rap influences tossed in there by the mid-2010's. All in all this album was very mediocre for me, but it wasn't bad at all. Although I grew up within the right timeframe to have Linkin Park be a major influence, I steered clear from that side of Rock/Metal, so coming into this album with zero nostalgia was kind of refreshing. Most of the songs sound perfectly at home on hard rock radio, but there were some riffs and moments that were genuinely interesting. Some moments fell flat, but overall this is an extremely inoffensive album with a few decent songs and a few misses. I can't help but think this one is over-hated just due to Linkin Park's overall style becoming cool to hate as the metal landscape evolved past the Nu and Alternative Metal of the late 90's and early 2000's.
I'm still keeping the amount of Gateway suggestions from me slightly low because while I'm glad to join the Gateway, I'm new to the clan and want my alt-metal taste to build gradually before going all in with my suggestions. My number of Gateway suggestions will increase by 1 until I get to a set maximum of, say, 8. With that, here are what I'm submitting for November's Gateway playlist (I'll make sure any multi-clan suggestions fit well with the playlist I'm submitting to):
Disturbed - "A Reason to Fight" (4:44) from Evolution (2018)
Green Carnation - "The Quiet Offspring" (4:05) from The Quiet Offspring (2005)
Lacuna Coil - "Closer" (3:02) from Karmacode (2006)
Linkin Park - "Pushing Me Away" (3:11) from Hybrid Theory (2000)
While She Sleeps - "Anti-Social" (4:14) from So What? (2019)
While She Sleeps – “No Defeat For The Brave” (from “Sleeps Society”, 2021)
5/5. All right, another home run for me with a While She Sleeps track to begin this playlist! A very good and meaningful song to like, though it might get confusing to hear Deryck Whibley of Sum 41 in an alt-metalcore song. Still a perfect collaboration!
Katatonia – “Behind The Blood” (from “City Burials”, 2020)
4/5. This one displays guitarist Roger Öjersson's amazing rock leads in a dark yet uplifting atmosphere, but I might soon run away from the darkness of the band doomier Fallen days. Jonas Renkse's lines in the driving chorus make that song a definite near-highlight.
Linkin Park – “From The Inside” (from “Meteora”, 2003)
4.5/5. Not the most popular song of the album, but my absolute favorite of the album Meteora. This song takes on a heavier side of rock, as Chester sings smoothly in the verses (along with Mike's rapping), gets coherently stronger in the chorus, and finally reaching the repetitive yet good brutal bridge (in the same level as the "SHUT UP!!" bridge from "One Step Closer"). The guitar is not really the best, but everything else makes up for it.
Bad Wolves – “Zombie” (from “Disobey”, 2018)
5/5. Bad Wolves is a band I consider part of the category of alt-metal bands my brother enjoys and I used to, and even though they obviously didn't exist during my peak in the category nearly a decade ago, I enjoyed a few songs from this band when my brother listened to them at around the time of this album's release despite sounding like part of said category. This cover is absolutely incredible, an epic rendition of the Cranberries' smash hit song! That group's lead singer Dolores O'Riordan was going to record the vocals herself, but tragically passed away right before she had the chance. Bad Wolves made the cover anyway with their lead vocalist Tommy Vext as a tribute. This might just surpass Disturbed's "The Sound of Silence" as the best modern alt-rock/metal cover of a classic hit. RIP Dolores...
4.5/5. Another killer classic from my pre-high-school (not that I was ever in high school) days of following my brother's footsteps in alt-rock/metal. The funny thing is, while this was (and still is) one of my favorite Disturbed songs, of all the songs from the band my brother likes, this isn't one of them. Perhaps he wasn't too fond of the strange intro. Anyway, this is a much more meaningful song than, say, "Another Way to Die" that is from Asylum but sounds like an outtake for this album. "Ten Thousand Fists" is an amazing song, but like the lyrics say, "If this disturbs you, then walk away."
New York alternative metal four-piece Helmet first became known to me through late-night underground metal radio programs at around the time that their 1992 sophomore album “Meantime” was released & they were pretty hard to ignore to be honest. Helmet’s highly regarded 1990 debut album “Strap It On” had somehow managed to drift past without me even noticing however “Meantime” could not have come at a better time for the band as it was everything the grunge-obsessed rock market were wanting & they lapped it up big time. I kinda found myself watching from afar without ever making any genuine commitment but I developed a respect for Helmet that saw me regarding them as a talented & relevant band for the 90’s alternative generation. Interestingly though, I don’t think I’ve ever actively listened to one of their albums in full until now.
Given my fairly casual acquaintance with Helmet up until now, I was actually surprised to find that my familiarity with “Meantime” extended past the obvious couple of hits in “Unsung” & “In The Meantime”. I was also very familiar with “Give It” & “Turned Out” which turned out to be a big positive for the record's chances of gaining my interest early on. I wouldn’t say that there were any other genuine surprises in store for me though as Helmet had a very good grasp of their sound by this stage & I subsequently found “Meantime” to offer a consistent approach & level of quality throughout it’s relatively short 37-minute runtime. Although it’s been noted that the band seem to have two gears on this album with the more commercially focused & the tougher material being evenly spread, I have to admit that I feel that’s overstating things a touch. All of the ten tracks take a pretty similar direction as far as I can see with only the vocals taking a more accessible & slightly poppy direction on the tracks that are presumably being referred to. I think it’s a bit of a stretch to call that an obvious attempt at hit-writing to be honest as these songs are usually as hard-hitting as the rest of the album from an instrumental perspective.
Helmet’s base sound is very much based on the grungy tone of the time with the guitar sound reminding me a hell of a lot of Seattle-based grunge gods Soundgarden. There’s certainly a hardcore edge to things though with some of the riffs & vocal performances sporting a gnarliness that wouldn’t have seemed out of place on Nirvana’s rough-&-ready debut album “Bleach”. The big difference between Helmet & their peers though is how strongly they rely on precisely executed & often fairly complex groove-based syncopated rhythms within their riff structures. In fact, they remind me a fair bit of fellow New Yorkers Prong in this regard. What we have here is heavily riff-based music that sees all four band members honing in on the one idea & looking to maximise its value with the bass guitar lines of Henry Bogdan playing a major role in accentuating the band’s overall heaviness. If you’re familiar with English sludge metallers Fudge Tunnel then you’ll know what I mean although Helmet are admittedly more rhythmically ambitious. Despite the apparent complexity in some of the unusual time signatures though, this united focus on the riff does tend to make Helmet sound a little less sophisticated than it probably should as there’s not all that much to this album. Every song sports hard-hitting, groove-based riffs that are all beautifully executed but don’t offer a lot of in the way of emotional engagement & depth. The post-hardcore references that seem to gain traction with this album are pretty misguided as there’s nothing “post” about this material in my opinion. It’s as riff-based as you’ll find with little attempt being made to explore anything more atmospheric or textural.
Front man Page Hamilton is the clear focal point of the band & he opts for a shouty, hardcore-inspired delivery a lot of the time. He’s not the most talented of vocalists but often reminds me of a less tone-deaf version of Godflesh’s Justin Broadrick in that he’s more about attitude than he is technique. I have to say it works for him pretty well but I’d be remiss if I didn’t highlight that a more obviously talented front man could have taken Helmet to another level. I mean the fact that I get so many Soundgarden vibes from Helmet’s instrumentation is enough to highlight the obvious gap in class between the two bands & a lot of that comes down to the chalk-&-cheese comparison between a vocal god like Chris Cornell or Alice In Chains’ Layne Stayley & the serviceable performance Page puts in here. I do like the noisy approach to the guitar solos though. It adds a layer of intensity to proceedings just when the song-writing is starting to sound a little too easy on the ear.
Look, despite my minor qualms “Meantime” is a really consistent record. You won’t find a weak track amongst the ten included here with the quality ranging from pretty decent to very solid. In fact, I was a bee’s dick away from upping my score to a 4/5 but eventually decided that I didn’t connect quite as much with Helmet’s sound as I’d like which prevented me from finding any single track to be an alternative metal classic. Songs like “In The Meantime”, “Give It” & “Turned Out” will always get me feeling a little nostalgic for a simpler time but I don’t think I can say that this album competes with the top tier of the genre. It’s a consistently enjoyable listen that delivers exactly what it promises from the first seconds of the opening track. I just would have liked to see Helmet experimenting with a more cerebral & visceral sound on occasion. They definitely had their own thing going on though & it’s actually pretty hard to think of anyone that sounded much like them at the time which is a point worthy of respect.
For fans of Prong, Fudge Tunnel & Soundgarden.
P.S. How obviously did Kansas-based grunge outfit Paw rip off the opening riff from “Unsung” on their 1993 hit “Jessie”?? They’re pretty much exactly the same & neither are all that far from the opening riff from Alice In Chains’ “Them Bones” which came out a few monthly after “Meantime” either.
As with The Sphere playlist, this month's Gateway list threw up some niceties. The Deftones track is a clear winner in my book and hearing American Head Charge who I have seen live before now was a great nostalgia moment. Atreyu was the only real discovery for me but I always continue to get something out of this clan's list each month.
My thoughts on some tracks (reviewing the majority of this playlist to test my strength in The Gateway):
Bring Me The Horizon – “One Day the Only Butterflies Left Will Be in Your Chest as You March Towards Your Death” (from “Post Human: Survival Horror” E.P., 2020)
4/5. Starting my playlist journey with probably the longest song title since that Underoath song used in a TheOdd1sOut video, Bring Me the Horizon continues their brand new surprises. After a thrashy screamo ride with the kawaii Babymetal and a good collaboration with the Nova Twins, we arrive in a beautiful soft duet with Evanescence's Amy Lee. I still miss the heavier darkness of Count Your Blessings though, maybe they can have more of that in the next installment of Post Human...
Thought Industry – “Fairy” (from “Outer Space Is Just a Martini Away”, 1996)
3.5/5. This one is pretty good, having some vibes from a similar band Failure. However, the music doesn't quite reach the height of greatness and is probably staying buried in the deep archives of eternity.
3/5. This is fine, but I prefer to stay out of this acid and chill in my pleasant reality.
Alice In Chains – “So Far Under” (from “Rainier Fog”, 2018)
3.5/5. Props to this one having f***ing killer lyrics such as in the chorus, "So much under hell, fought hard where I fell". However, from the two and a half minute mark onward, the music gets a bit repetitive, but still good nonetheless.
The Bread Scientists – “Cosmonaut” (from “Troposphere”, 2021)
4/5. Still can't accept the instrumental shoegazing alt-rock/metal sound either despite how good it is. Next!
Snot – “Absent” (from “Strait Up”, 2000)
4.5/5. This is one of only two tracks in Strait Up to have the vocals of Lynn Strait. He was killed in a car crash in late 1998, along with the group's mascot, his dog Dobbs ("I told him not to bring his dog in his car. I told him!"). RIP Lynn and Dobbs... ); I'm proud of what he has done. Probably one of the best tracks from this band...
4/5. This one I also like. Good work! They really have good amounts of P.O.D. influences here, especially the Christian direction the band was intending, which means that they have to cut down the swearing that's common in most other nu metal bands. I still prefer Demon Hunter...
The Union Underground – “Turn Me On “Mr. Deadman”” (from “…An Education In Rebellion”, 2000)
4.5/5. I seem to like the underground bands more, and that's good because it helps keep my rep. While I like experimenting with song editing, censoring the swearing in the clean version kinda disrupts the flow, which is why the explicit version is better for anyone who can handle swearing.
Dead By April – “When You Wake Up” (from “Incomparable”, 2011)
5/5. Now this is an underrated song compared to everything else in this playlist! It really has waken me up more than coffee after waking up early in the morning to do all this commenting. An awesome song to listen to during COVID lockdowns. Probably favorite song in this playlist! At over the two and a half minute mark, there's a different hit in the instrumentation with trance-filled synths. This is incredible, and that's no lie!
Primer 55 – “Loose” (from “Introduction To Mayhem”, 2000)
4.5/5. Holy sh*t, that's great energetic beat for a rap metal song! Good for if you wanna throw and break stuff in Doom Eternal or any other violent video game. They could really f***ing axe-kill MTV for not letting them in. RIP J-Sin...
Coldrain – “Revolution” (from “The Side Effects”, 2019)
5/5. What follows is the best standout here that's beyond d*mn right good, and what got me interested in Coldrain when a friend from the outside world showed me that song and mentioned that it was used as the theme song for Mobile Suit Gundam: Extreme Vs 2. What an anthem! As always, there are strong screams and clean vocals that marks Coldrain's signature vocal department from Masato. There's even a short rapping verse that works better than even Linkin Park.
Architects – “Giving Blood” (from “For Those That Wish To Exist”, 2021)
5/5. This is another contender for my favorite song in this playlist! Especially in almost the entire second half, like holy sh*t!! Amazing energy and good vibes this song has. The music from this band and Dead By April shall meet me...
4.5/5. I love this fun song, and I would recommend to any fan of Tankian and System of a Down, but it's too hard for me to take it seriously with all this scatting in the verses, that's what detracts the score away from perfection.
4/5. I enjoy the p*ssed-off vibe here, but that's about it really.
Galactic Cowboys – “If I Were A Killer” (from “Space In Your Face”, 1993)
4.5/5. This one is quite an amazing one from 28 years ago, a powerful monster! The guitar really picks it up. If I were a killer, I would kill anyone who hates this song, but I won't, because I'm not a killer and will never be one. One of the rare great 90s alt-metal songs!
Sevendust – “Against The World” (from “Blood & Stone”, 2020)
4.5/5. Another month, another song from Sevendust's latest album! This one has a powerful chorus and really reflects upon their 2000s albums. I like it, and it makes me wonder why Sevendust should've been more popular. There are awesome tempo changes as well to bring the fire. The golden lyrics keep it real. As I've said before, my brother enjoys this band along with other alt-rock/metal bands, and with unreal creativity going on, this would be another good song for my bro to listen to. He likes this genre more than I do. Light it up!
Chevelle – “Pistol Star (Gravity Heals)” (from “Niratias”, 2021)
4/5. Chevelle is another band my brother finds amazing, and he has played one or two of their songs on his guitar. This is a great song for him to listen to, despite the lyrics not being too strong or understandable.
Angela Martyr – “On The Edge Of Next Time” (from “The November Harvest”, 2016)
2.5/5. Um...no. Sorry, Sonny. Maybe next time....
Dir en Grey – “Ugly” (from “Six Ugly” E.P., 2002)
5/5. Hammering riff in goth-ish nu metal. F***ing love this! For a song titled "Ugly", it's way more beautiful and trippy. You just gotta love the music these experimental alt-metal masters from Japan have unleashed!
There's a lot to break down here. So much so that I listened to this on like, July 7th or something, I'm just now posting something, and I'm still not entirely sure what to say. I don't think I have the same reverence towards this that's being shown above, even though I completely get it. I think the most important distinction between The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here and something like Dirt or Jar of Flies is that this sounds incredibly mature in comparison. Most of the songs have more Alternative Rock sounding riffs with more chord strumming than hefty chug rhythms and the new vocalist keeps a somber and dark but not exactly aggressive tone going throughout the album. It doesn't have the bursting energy that the 90's Grunge scene had, but it doesn't really have to and it shows some serious evolution within the Alice In Chains sound. I think what impresses me the most is that this still sounds definitively like Alice In Chains even if the elements are a bit shuffled around. They've always had a sound that I've preferred over that of Nirvana or Stone Temple Pilots and even after all these years its still preserved in a somber and reflective feeling album that is distinctly Alice In Chains.
That being said, something about this one doesn't exactly click with me. I'm not sure if it's because DuVall is an obvious attempt at a one-to-one Staley replacement and that doesn't sit well with me, or if at the end of the day I find TDPDH kind of boring in all honesty. Objectively I agree with Saxy about DuVall really coming into his own with this new shift in style and it sounds great, but there's still something that doesn't exactly feel right to me; maybe it's because it sounds so surface-level compared to the Alice In Chains of the past? At the same time that's a pretty terrible observation to make because wanting to hear legitimate suffering through music isn't exactly something that I'd want to promote, even if its been shown to create some of the most revered albums. Saxy's also correct in that this album is more universal in what it tries to convey and I think it's better off for it, but it leaves me wanting a bit more for some reason.
I think TDPDH is going to be a slow, slow burner for me judging by how I've been thinking about it, trying to figure out how to put everything together for a review which obviously isn't going to happen this month, or maybe ever. I'm definitely glad that Alice In Chains went in this direction because it's objectively still uniquely them and high quality, but I think I need even more time with it to detach myself from my expectations.
Update on my journey to discover my Gateway potential: Reviewing all the Coldrain albums and EPs was quite a wild ride, and my overall opinion on this band is quite mixed. Two of the albums reach a perfect 5 stars, while one ended up slumping down to 2.5 stars, and the albums in between are pretty good and great. The next step for this journey is to explore a few more Gateway bands (or at least bands with at least one Gateway album), and I already have a good head start with Dir En Grey's Uroboros which is last month's Gateway feature release, and a couple songs from this month's Gateway playlist when I took the suggestion to check out more of that playlist (thanks for that, Daniel). I still have a long way to go before I truly earn the key to unlocking The Gateway...
Hey there, Daniel! Coldrain's second album The Enemy Inside is perfect for when you're up to listening to this band for the first time, so please feel free to give it a listen. MartinDavey87 and Saxy S, I highly recommend this album for you guys to listen to as well.
As usual with The Gateway playlist I have to sift through a lot of stuff I don't get on with to find some unexpected moments of entertainment. The moments this month came from Serj Tankian, Korn, Infectious Grooves and Grey Waters.
I first became aware of talented Los Angeles alternative metal outfit Tool through underground metal radio programs in the early 1990's. I always really enjoyed what I heard & my first real girlfriend was very much into the alternative scene so I became quite familiar with them over time without ever committing to giving them much of my direct attention due to my extreme metal obsession at the time. This all changed in 2001 when my best mate became thoroughly obsessed with their third album "Lateralus". He quickly introduced me to it & we began smoking large amounts of weed while getting deeper & deeper into the complexities of this classic alternative/progressive metal release. When we heard that they were playing in Sydney just a couple of months after the release of "Lateralus" we immediately committed to attending & threw the offer out to my new girlfriend who I was quite obsessed with. It was decided that she'd bring along her best friend & we'd attend the first of two shows at the Sydney Entertainment Centre as a foursome.
On the day of the event we all met in the city & had some pre-drinks to warm us up for the main event followed by some high-grade joints behind the venue so we were all in a totally appropriate head space by showtime. I don't recall who the opening act was however I seem to remember them being particularly inappropriate for a Tool show so let's not dwell on that but needless to say that the headliners made a huge impact right from the word go. We were seated in the stands to the right hand side of the stage & had a good view while also being nice & comfortable in our baked states so once the trippy visuals started we were all in audio/visual heaven & the visual production became very much a key component of the show, easily playing as strong a role as the various band members.
As usual, front man Maynard Keenan never maintained eye contact with the crowd & I feel like this worked to his advantage on this occasion as it helped him to maintain this other-worldly aura that complimented the music & visuals. He was absolutely in top form from a vocal perspective too. The musicianship was simply mind-blowing & the production was outstanding with the rhythm section sounding immense & the crushing guitar chords hitting like a sledge hammer. The band played a nice mix of material from each of their first three albums while concentrating a good half of the setlist on our beloved "Lateralus" which suited us all down to the ground. Personal highlights included "Schism", "Stinkfist" & "Sober".
My girlfriend & I were absolutely loved up & in the zone together throughout the show in one of those extended moments that can't really be repeated. I don't know if this played a significant role in my overall feelings on the performance or not but given that this show has maintained its position as a once in a lifetime gig that still sits amongst my top three or four live band experiences to this day I'd suggest that it probably didn't hurt. (For the record, she'd dump me out of the blue a few months later & I'd never see her again.) I've seen Tool play a number of times since (including on their tour in June 2002 when they strangely decided to return once more in support of "Lateralus" & played at the same venue) & they've always left me in complete awe however that initial experience was something truly next level & they've never managed to match it.
I gave this one a listen towards the middle of the month and even though I made it all the way through twice, I have zero motivation to go back to it. I can't deny that it's an intriguing and unique listen given all the stuff Dir En Grey stuffs into it, but Uroboros hits a certain chord in my biased brain that just makes the whole thing straight up annoying to me. I have the same issue with System of a Down; I don't find anything they're doing captivating or worthy of a deeper dive because the jagged song structure and constant grating dissonance of random elements just puts me off of listening to this kind of stuff so much. One of these days I'll be able to fully articulate why I can't stand stuff that sounds like this, but that's all I've got for this month, just some good old personal bias.
I don't mind "it" as it happens. The Deftones influence is strong enough to even carry off the blatantly commercial sounding Two Way Mirror without it grating that much. The bouncy metalcore aspect to it works in the main also , I'd just like the record as a whole to be a little more settled compositionally as they clearly have a lot to say but it is too much like hard work trying to keep with the expression of it.
I don't love it but at the same time I don't hate it. As with most Revolution (and a few Gateway) bands - I don't need it in my life though. There's not enough intrigue to keep me interested for fifty minutes as nothing feels framed that well and it is not that I need boundaries to my metal music (far from it usually) but for the obvious clash of styles that go on, the focus on detail is off.
My thoughts on some tracks (including my suggested ones):
Paradise Lost – “Mouth” (from “Believe In Nothing”, 2001)
3/5. A rock song from a usually gothic/doom band that might have inspired the post-grunge movement with bands like Seether. My brother who's into Seether and other post-grunge bands would like that song.
Bring Me The Horizon – “Ludens” (from “Post Human: Survival Horror” E.P., 2020)
4/5. This EP marks the return of the metal side of Bring Me the Horizon that was absent after the grand Sempiternal. This amazing song is also in the Death Stranding soundtrack. Ludens is the name of the mascot for Kojima Productions, the company that made Death Stranding, proving once again that this song is a contribution to the game soundtrack. The return to their heavier form can be prominently found near the 3-minute mark. This band has far more potential than Falling in Reverse. BMTH has been given a break from metal, and now the break is over. Welcome back!
Disturbed – “Asylum” (from “Asylum”, 2010)
4.5/5. This track has the alt-metal instrumentation to expect from the band! David Draiman's first words here are a passionate shout of "Release me!" I actually like this song much more now than when I listening to the band 9 years ago, probably because the heaviness I can definitely tolerate much more. The hook is worth repeated listens; "And the loneliness is killing me!" A hard-hitting radio single!
I've given this one a few bashes this morning & found that I quite liked it but wouldn't class it as essential listening. Sure it incorporates some new elements like the electronic component & the addition of former The Gathering front woman Anneke van Giersbergen but the end result still sounds like Devin with his trademark wall of melodic sound. Unsurprisingly, all of the various ingredients have been beautifully integrated. In fact, Devin really should send the album to Megadeth band leader Dave Mustaine so that he can see how albums like "Risk" & "The World Needs A Hero" should have sounded as the boys seem to have had similar ideas but produced vastly different results with a wide disparity in regards to quality.
Anneke has sat amongst my favourite female metal vocalists (if not THE favourite) for a very long time now so I welcomed the collaboration. She certainly sounds great here too but I do prefer to hear her voice being highlighted a little more than it is amidst Devin's huge soundscapes. The production is obviously outstanding though & this gives some of the middling tracks the grunt required to see them getting over the line. The guitar tone is heavy as shit while Ryan Van Poederooyen puts in a stellar performance behind the drum kit.
It's interesting that many fans seem to regard this album as an industrial metal record. Sure there are some electronic elements at play here but there's not a consistently industrial/mechanical atmosphere. "Addicted" is far more uplifting that that & I'm actually fine with the alternative metal tag as a lot of this material looks to remove some of the boundaries that separate metal from your more accessible styles whilst always maintaining a predominantly metal aesthetic. Despite the general consensus, when you examine the tracklisting as a whole you'll find that "Addicted" isn't really much poppier than Devin has dished out before either & I do think that saying it incorporates "dance music" is a stretch too as the electronics are used purely for colour & there aren't too many artificial dance beats included here.
Overall, I think "Addicted" had the potential to be a really great album given the quality of the production, performances & most of the hooks but there's a major flaw that prevents me from scoring it as highly as I'd like to. Unfortunately the tracklisting is let down by a couple of weak commercially focused tracks (i.e. "Bend It Like Bender!" & particularly the soppy ballad "Ih-Ah!") which combine to bring my score down by a half-star. Otherwise there's plenty of meat for Devin's fanatical audience to dig their teeth into here with the clear album highlight "Supercrush!" sitting amongst the best work of Devin's entire career.
Given my age, Linkin Park were one of the bands while I was growing up, but I was never into any of the popular music scenes back then. I skated right by all the Linkin Park, Korn, and Slipknot worship in favor of classic rock, Tool, and Dream Theater. Even though I listened to next to zero Linkin Park, this seriously takes me back since it's such a product of its time. The early 2000's were basically the only time when this angsty and weird hip-hop/rap, electronic, and metal hybrid could have existed and I came out of this having a lot more respect for this band.
Even though the riffs don't exactly have a ton of pop to them and the rapping is overall very monotone and lifeless compared to other, better rapping examples, Meteora is nuanced in a way that makes it so these shortcomings don't completely ruin the album. The album also feels like an album as well, with a lot of songs having great transitions and a nice overall flow to the whole thing. I think Linkin Park excel at being brutally accessible, with nothing on Meteora being particularly crazy, but I think that's why it holds up so much better than even their "cornerstone album" Hybrid Theory. "Crawling In My Skin" has become a recurring, embarrassing teenage angst joke of a song for slightly good reason, but I didn't find anything nearly as egregious as that in Meteora.
I think I have to agree with Saxy in that this album may come back in style eventually as one of the better examples of what came of the early 2000's Nu-Metal craze. Pleasantly surprised.
I thoroughly enjoy "Swerve City", "Leathers" and "Entombed", but the second half of this record tries to get more progressive and can't stick the landing.
It's interesting that I actually find the B-side to be the stronger of the two, particularly the four track run from "Tempest" through to "Goon Squad" which is the best part of the record for mine.
every Deftones album since Diamond Eyes has focused more on texture than hooks.
I dunno about that. To my ears "Koi no Yokan" is still built around heavy riffs & catchy hooks & I feel similarly about "Ohms".
P.S. This is fourth Deftones album featured in The Gateway in just fourteen months. And while I certainly see no problem with highlighting one of Alternative Metal's best groups, it does feel a little disproportionate, especially when there is a shoegaze/post-metal/alternative metal revival going on with groups like Loathe and Hum.
Point taken. I knew it was self-indulgent when I made the call for this month's feature but I honestly didn't realise how heavily I'd focused on the one band until you guys highlighted it. You'll see more variation moving forwards. In fact, I've already got something penciled in for next month that's more in line with your suggested direction.
I think I'm going to end up right in the middle of you two after revisiting this. I found Katatonia years ago and while I really enjoy most of their material I never had a strong desire to go back and listen to albums like The Great Cold Distance more than a few times. Obviously three or four years ago me had some strong enough feelings to initially rate it a 4.5/5, but going back to it left me feeling a bit lukewarm.
Since I'm not familiar with their earlier Death Doom days, Katatonia was always one of those groups that just sounded extremely clean, polished, and consistent throughout all the material I've heard from them. The Great Cold Distance is no different in that regard because even though there isn't a whole lot of variety through the 12 songs, I never really get tired of their style. They know what they want to do and do it extremely well, which I think is worthy of a lot of praise. However, this time around The Great Cold Distance didn't really grip me in the same way that Daniel begins to explain this time around. Katatonia always manages to create extremely complex atmospheres out of very simple and easy to understand passages and layering, but eventually the album started to drag on with too similar of ideas. It's fortunate that Katatonia have carved out their signature sound so heavily that it doesn't bother me too much in the end, but I still think it's a criticism that I have.
To sort of agree with Andi's point though, The Great Cold Distance is wholly accessible, but not necessarily in a bad way. There's still a ton of complexity to be had and I agree that this album may very well be a grower, to Daniel's point about subtlety. Alternative Metal styled Katatonia are one of those bands that I consider to be a gateway into the genre for people who say they hate Metal because all the music has is the same guitar riff over and over and someone screaming into the microphone. Alternative/Prog Metal like this shows that you can have a substantial and heavy emotional edge to something without necessarily going overboard with crazy Death or Black Metal riffing. The nice thing is that there are still plenty of heavy riffs to be had in this, so not much is lost by going towards the realm of accessibility. Great album, even if I don't quite think it's a full-blown masterpiece anymore.
Yeah I've always thought "Louder Than Love" was awesome. It's highlights ("Hands All Over", "Loud Love", "Gun", etc.) are sensationally bad-ass & heavy as fuck. It's definitely got some of Soundgarden's best material. I don't think the overall album is as as consistent as the two albums that followed it though, particularly "Badmotorfinger" which is my personal favourite.
Interestingly I am the other way. I find both later albums inconsistent and flawed despite their being obvious "hits" on them.
After giving this another spin alongside White Pony for comparison, I have to slightly retract my first statement and align more with Daniel, even though I still don't think it's worthy of 4.5/5 praise. Ohms is definitely a modernization of their style and while I may have missed the stepping stone considering I haven't checked out Koi no Yokan, it's definitely a bit more than "just another Deftones album". It's much cleaner and tighter than White Pony, and while I think that makes it a bit less interesting overall, I also think that the mixing and balance of this album falls more in line with what I like. Although White Pony has this sort of unhinged and in-your-face atmosphere, most of that comes from Moreno's moans and breathing being piped directly into the listener's eardrums at all points in time. Ohms is more moderate and puts the mixing right in the pocket of where Deftones' sound probably should be, for better or worse. There are some tracks that go back to the older sound, like the beginning of "This Link Is Dead" and "The Spell of Mathematics", but it's not a constant assault. The synth experimentation also fits in really well, never feeling like it's out of place. It also should be noted that there are some hefty riffs in this one that are great as standalone features instead of always being accented by the vocals like White Pony tended to do. "Genesis", "Urantia", and "Headless" all have great chuggy riffs that hit harder than most of their previous material.
So yeah, I think I wrote this one off a bit too soon. It's still a Deftones album, but it's a goodDeftones album. Not good enough for me to bump it up to a 4/5, but I came around to it after a few more listens.
I have made it clear in recent months that I have never cared for Primus, nor do I predict that I will ever care about Primus. They have always turned me off with their "look how quirky we are!" mentality to writing music that I just tune out. With Faith No More, you can still hear the cheese and it is on full display in the music, but I have always felt like, and with this album in particular, there has been some reality or seriousness attuned to it. And I have really enjoyed trying to pick it apart. As for the music itself, it is some of the best funk metal I have ever heard and helped lay a framework that most of us attribute to Rage Against the Machine. I really like most of the genre blending that takes place and all of it is crafted with the same amount of care; nothing sounds forced or underperformed. Very solid stuff.
Hate is a strong word, so I'll say that I strongly dislike System of a Down. It's been one of my hot musical opinions for quite a while, and sadly it hasn't changed when revisiting Toxicity. I can see the appeal since, like Saxy said, SOAD reinvigorated the Nu-Metal genre in a way that only they could have. Their songs are manic and crazy, keeping the listener on their toes at all points with their constant swaps between stripped down, but still complex melodic sections and crunchy chug sections.
There's only one problem with their style though; I find it incredibly, unbearably annoying. I can't point to any individual part of SOAD's sound and say it's objectively bad, like I don't think that Serj is a bad vocalist and their riffs hit pretty hard, but something strange happens when you put it all together. It's incredible how much willpower it takes me to listen to Toxicity cover to cover, since there's always this urge to just skip to something else with none of the riffs or sections getting any sort of reaction out of me.
"Chop Suey!" is obviously a classic that's been joked about for almost two decades now, "Aerials" is always a nice one to go back to every now and again, but no matter how many times I try, SOAD can't win me over. I think this'll continue to age well for the people who enjoy it since I doubt any other band will be able to capture the same sort of style as SOAD has, but I'll be seeing myself out now.
As I've said in the past when Lateralus popped up here, I was (and still am) a massive Tool fan and they still scratch a certain itch for me that no other band can. Their riff grooves and overall songwriting is unmatched when it comes to Alt Metal, even though they can go off the deep end a few too many times. Aenima sits below 10,000 Days as my second favorite Tool album, beating out Lateralus by quite a large margin. Even though the interludes are pretty silly and kind of unnecessary, I prefer how they're done in here over Lateralus' strange atmospheric drones that begin and end out of nowhere. For better or worse they're more memorable and, for me, actually add to the album experience. While Tool did try to go for humor I really think it's a nihilistic, ironic sort of humor that never really bothered me in the same way it seems to bother Saxy.
That being said everything in-between the interludes is fantastic, with pretty much every song except for maybe "H." being a Tool necessity. The amount of anger and cynicism towards the world comes out heavily in Aenima and makes the complex riffing hit just a bit harder. "Third Eye" is a bit too drawn out for my liking, "(-) Ions" never fails to make me exceedingly uncomfortable even though I know that's the point, and "jimmy" is definitely forgettable compared to the rest of the album. That said this is definitely still Tool at (almost) their best, so the end product is still going to get high marks from me. "Stinkfist", "Eulogy", "Forty Six & 2", and "Pushit" still have killer grooves and fantastic, emotionally charged vocals that still hold up as being essential to the Alt Metal genre.
Hi everyone. So we've been listening to your feedback on our initial Metal Academy Radio clan-specific playlists & we've returned with a slightly adjusted format for September in that we've focused a lot more on the primary subgenres rather than giving equal playtime to all subgenres covered by a clan. We've also started to make these playlists interactive as we're now taking our clan members suggestions for track inclusions with the intention of expanding this further as some of the less populous clans start to fill out.
Here's the September playlist for The Gateway. You'll notice that it's a lot heavier on the alternative metal & nu metal than it is rap metal & funk metal this time. It also starts out a lot stronger & more exciting. Please let us know what you think as we're still figuring out the best way to approach these playlists.
I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed some of this playlist too, particularly the more intense stuff during the second half. In fact, I actually don't mind a lot of the heavier nu metal stuff which I don't often admit to myself. The funk metal & rap metal stuff is largely hit & miss for me personally & that Corey Feldman album is one of the worst things I've ever heard in my life & was very much a novelty inclusion. There's actually a lot worse I could have included from that album which is saying something. Who knew Corey had made a pop/metal record after he'd ceased to become even remotely relevant??
I was really surprised I enjoyed Frizzle Fry as much as I did, and the Primus experience might stop there because Sailing the Seas of Cheese just didn't do it for me, even though it's still an impressively wacky record. Claypool really starts to go off the deep end with this one, with the complex jams still there but not as tight or interesting as they were in Frizzle Fry. A lot of it feels like meandering shock factor, with songs having extended monologues from Les that range from a bit silly to a bit creepy at times. "Jerry Was A Racecar Driver" still remains my favorite Primus song through the thick of it all, but the other notable track "Tommy the Cat" ended up not aging that well for me. It just feels strange for the sake of being strange and it didn't really hook me into what it was trying to do. The musicianship is still top notch, if not a bit more straightforward than Frizzle Fry, and it's still certainly a one-of-a-kind product that only Primus could make thanks to its funky bass playing and use of crazy time signatures, but I fail to see the charm in it this time around.
I'm really glad that Deftones grew out of this initial style. They managed to pick out the strongest elements and expand upon those, leaving the choppy Nu-Metal songwriting and terrible production behind for Around The Fur. While sufficiently aggressive, the guitar tone is pretty atrocious and each song feels haphazard and pointless, mirroring my thoughts on other early Nu-Metal groups like Korn. The smooth, ever-present vocals don't mesh too well with the style of riffs they chose, making the whole thing a pretty confusing affair. I also find a lot of early Nu-Metal like this to be incredibly awkward with all of the whispering and free-form vocals like in "Nosebleed". I guess these are supposed to be emotional and angsty? Whatever the intent was, it definitely doesn't work on me. There are some good riffs in here and it's definitely a piece of Nu-Metal history, but I couldn't help but get more and more annoyed the longer I listened. I'm really grateful that they smoothed out their sound to something way more unique and interesting in such a short period of time after Adrenaline.